By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Over the past nine years, Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz has posted more than 5,000 shiurim on YUTorah.org on topics from daf yomi to iyun to machshavah to his famous “Ten-Minute Halachah” series. He has done so with his unique style, blending penetrating analysis with a broad panoramic view of Torah topics, all while remaining clear and lucid to the novice and scholar alike.
Rabbi Lebowitz’s accomplishments are many. In addition to his rabbinical responsibilities, he is an 11th-grade rebbe at DRS Yeshiva (since 1999), and maggid shiur and program director of Yeshivat Lev Shlomo, the post-high-school beismidrash program affiliated with the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, a position he has held since the program’s inception in 2009.
A Five Towns native, Rabbi Lebowitz spent two years after high school learning in EretzYisrael at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh. Upon his return, he attended Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, where he majored in finance. Upon graduation, Rabbi Lebowitz fully dedicated himself to his semichah studies at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) under the tutelage of his rebbe, Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita.
Rabbi Lebowitz has published numerous articles on practical halachah in various journals, including the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. His recorded shiurim on halachah, Gemara, and derush, including a dafyomishiur delivered each morning at Beis Knesses of North Woodmere, and an abbreviated summary of a relevant practical and halachic topic given at Yeshivat Lev Shlomo, are available at YUTorah.org and have gained widespread popularity.
Prior to founding the Beis Knesses of North Woodmere, Rabbi Lebowitz served three years as the assistant rabbi at Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence. While at Shaaray Tefila, he also served as the founding roshkollel of the morning kollel, one of the foremost centers for adult education in the Lawrence community.
Though he is not an employee of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Lebowitz has given the primary dafyomishiur on YUTorah.org since 2008. He also posts shiurim given at Beis Knesses of North Woodmere and DRS as well as Yeshivat Lev Shlomo, the site of Rabbi Lebowitz’s most popular shiur, the Ten Minute Halacha series. Geared to students with only a short break between Torah learning and college classes, the more than 500 Ten Minute Halacha lectures–on topics ranging from celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden to the permissibility of throwing Torah-filled newspapers in the garbage–are enhanced by his erudite and entertaining speaking style. Many of Rabbi Lebowitz’s shiurim have been downloaded several hundred times.
“Rabbi Lebowitz’s deep sincerity, humility, integrity, and genuineness are even more remarkable than his accomplishments in learning and teaching Torah, said Rabbi Shay Schachter, rosh beis midrash of Young Israel of Woodmere. “He is a true model, not only to the members of his class and his shul, but to so many young and aspiring talmideichachamim all over the world. He truly brings honor to the position of rabbi.”
On Shabbos ParashasVayigash, the Beis Knesses of North Woodmere celebrated the great accomplishments of their mara d’asra. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, shlita, roshyeshiva of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and rebbemuvhak of Rabbi Lebowitz, joined in commemorating the event.
“Rav Schachter takes great pride in many of his talmidim from over the past 50 years of teaching, but he certainly has a special place in his heart for those who are teaching on their own,” said Rabbi Shay Schachter, son of the roshyeshiva. “It is always amazing to watch how talmidim like Rabbi Lebowitz, who are so highly respected and accomplished on their own, take the time to come to yeshiva and discuss their pertinent she’eilos with Rav Schachter.” Rav Schachter so deeply enjoys watching his sacred mesorah and legacy being transmitted to new generations of students and communities. As he has recently quipped, “When I watch my talmidim like R’ Aryeh and his friends, I feel certain and confident in the next generation, and perhaps I can now think of retiring.”
The celebratory event began on Thursday night at the Young Israel of Woodmere. In a tremendous show of kavodhaTorah, our community convened to participate in a stellar program, featuring Rabbi Lebowitz delivering a shiur on “The Best of Ten Minute Halacha.” Guest speakers included Rabbi Shay Schachter and Charlie Harary.
“I was fortunate to have attended the incredible program in North Woodmere honoring Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz this past Shabbos. The kavodhaTorah that the community exhibited to Rabbi Hershel Schachter, to Rabbi Shay Schachter, and to Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz was very moving,” said Morris Smith of Lawrence. “There were large crowds at all the various events–90 people on leilShabbos for a question-and-answer session with Rabbi Hershel Schachter. The Q&A session was most interesting; I believe it generated an incredible response for the Torah-driven hashkafah that has often been heard from Rabbi Schachter. “It is hard to measure the impact Rabbi Lebowitz has had in North Woodmere–the community is now bursting with a number of very active local shuls that coexist beautifully. The Shabbos seudos that were attended by the rabbanim of the three shuls in the area was reflective of that. Beis Knesses of North Woodmere–Rabbi Lebowitz’s shul–is a true makomTorah but also a makomtefillah, with a beautiful respect for davening, and with people who are truly committed to growing in tefillah, limudTorah, and their middos and ma’asimtovim.”
“Rabbi Lebowitz certainly has a broad and deep understanding of Torah,” says Rabbi Isaac Rice, assistant rabbi of Anshei Chesed and a faculty member of SKA. “But there are many people who ‘know a lot of Torah’ but do not take the time to prepare it in a way that makes it enjoyable to learn. What makes Rabbi Lebowitz unique is that he understands the Torah is enhanced and more palatable when it is presented in a way that glorifies the Torah and makes listening to TorasHashem enjoyable. He spends time making sure that his shiurim will be understood and enjoyed by the listener. He loves learning Torah and he doesn’t keep it for himself, in order to get kavod. He is well aware that the true kavod is given to the Torah and that it is best for Klal Yisrael if there are more people who can teach and learn Torah.”
Says Rabbi Shay Schachter, “One does not have to be a rabbi or educator to teach and inspire. Rabbi Lebowitz has revolutionized the way so many people think about ten minutes–he has given rich meaning and value to the smallest amount of time and to the simplest dafGemara.”